The Metaphysical Society (1869-1880): Intellectual Life in Mid-Victorian England

ISBN : 9780198846499

Catherine Marshall; Bernard Lightman; Richard England
320 ページ
156 x 234 mm

The Metaphysical Society was founded in 1869 at the instigation of James Knowles (editor of the Contemporary Review and then of the Nineteenth Century) with a view to 'collect, arrange, and diffuse Knowledge (whether objective or subjective) of mental and moral phenomena' (first resolution of the society in April 1869). The Society was a private dining and debate club that gathered together a latter-day clerisy. Building on the tradition of the Cambridge Apostles, they elected talented members from across the Victorian intellectual spectrum: Bishops, one Cardinal, philosophers, men of science, literary figures, and politicians. The Society included in its 62 members prominent figures such as T. H. Huxley, William Gladstone, Walter Bagehot, Henry Edward Manning, John Ruskin, and Alfred Lord Tennyson. The Metaphysical Society (1869-1880) moves beyond Alan Willard Brown's 1947 pioneering study of the Metaphysical Society by offering a more detailed analysis of its inner dynamics and its larger impact outside the dining room at the Grosvenor Hotel. The contributors shed light on many of the colourful figures that joined the Society as well as the alliances that they formed with fellow members. The collection also examines the major concepts that informed the papers presented at Society meetings. By discussing groups, important individuals, and underlying concepts, the volume contributes to a rich, new picture of Victorian intellectual life during the 1870's, a period when intellectuals were wondering how, and what, to believe in a time of social change, spiritual crisis, and scientific progress.


List of figures
The Contributors
Catherine Marshall, Bernard Lightman, and Richard England: Introduction
Part I: Society and the Politics of Engagement
1 Bruce Kinzer: The Personalization of Intellectual Combat: James Fitzjames Stephen and the Metaphysical Society
2 Catherine Marshall: The Editors of the Metaphysical Society or, Disseminating the Ideas of the Metaphysicians
3 Andrew Vincent: Liberalism and the Metaphysical Society
Part II: Miracles, Unseen Universes, and Natural Causes
4 Gowan Dawson: The Cross-Examination of the Physiologist : T. H. Huxley and the Resurrection
5 Richard England: Cause, Nature, and the limits of language: Martineau and Maurice on the philosophical necessity of Theism
6 Anne DeWitt: Expertise in the Miracles Debate
7 W. J. Mander: Hodgson, Clifford, and the unseen universe
Part III: Intuitionism and Empiricism: Mapping the Boundaries
8 Ian Hesketh: Evolution, Ethics, and the Metaphysical Society, 1869 1875
9 Piers J. Hale: Between intuition and empiricism: William Benjamin Carpenter on man, mind and moral
10 William Sweet: Intuitionism, Religious Belief, and Proof in Papers of the Metaphysical Society
11 Bernard Lightman: Catholics and the Metaphysical Basis of Science
12 Richard England, Bernard Lightman, and Catherine Marshall: Postscript


Catherine Marshall is Professor of British Studies at the Universite de Cergy-Pontoise in France. Her research focuses mainly on the history of ideas in the second-half of the nineteenth century. She also works on the development of political ideas in Victorian Britain and on their legacy in the twentieth century. She is the co-editor, with Bernard Lightman and Richard England, of a 3-volume critical edition of The papers of The Metaphysical Society (1869-1880) (2015).; Bernard Lightman is Distinguished Research Professor in the Humanities Department at York University, a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and President (2018-2019) of the History of Science Society. Lightman's research focuses on the cultural history of Victorian science. Among his most recent publications are the edited collections Global Spencerism, A Companion to the History of Science, and Science Museums in Transition (co-edited with Carin Berkowitz). He is one of the general editors of the John Tyndall Correspondence Project, an international collaborative effort to obtain, digitalize, transcribe, and publish all surviving letters to and from Tyndall. ; Richard England is a historian of science and religion and Honors College administrator who has published on the history of evolutionary thought and controversy, with a particular interest in Victorian religious responses to Darwinism. In teaching Honors classes at Salisbury University (Maryland) and Eastern Illinois University he has sought to use his research to illuminate the epistemological and philosophical foundations of contemporary scientific controversies.